We believe this chicken pasta salad recipe is one of the best cold salad recipes to make for either large gatherings, regular light meals, or World Pasta Day.
This salad is full of flavor, texture, and color. You will get tender pasta, hearty chicken, juicy cherry tomatoes, and crispy bell peppers, all wrapped in an irresistibly tasty dressing.
The combination of chicken, pasta, and the veggie mix in this salad is heavenly. While chicken and pasta take the main stage, cherry tomatoes and red bell pepper add incredibly fresh flavors and crispness to the salad.
With this chicken pasta salad recipe, we go for rotini, as this pasta shape looks exceptionally good in macaroni salads. You can easily chop rotini into bite-sized pieces, making it more convenient to toss with other ingredients.
Of course, please feel free to use your favorite pasta shape if you believe it makes the salad more appealing. Other pasta shapes that are suitable for this salad are bow tie, large shells, penne, rigatoni, farfalle, maccheroni, conchiglie, etc.
For this salad, we use diced chicken breast to add a lean protein source to the salad while still keeping the fat low.
This salad also gives you a chance to make the best use of leftover rotisserie in your fridge. So, don’t fret yourself over which cut of chicken to use— whatever is convenient for you.
Is Our Recipe Healthy?
For a protein salad that’s loaded with lean chicken breast, fresh greens, and a mix of fresh herbs and seasonings, we believe the answer is yes. The dressing is also light and herby, as there’s no mayo or ranch included.
However, it’s important to note that you may need a consult from a health expert when adding it to any specific diet.
This chicken pasta salad provides 243 calories per serving.
In this chicken pasta salad recipe, we made the dressing only from a few ingredients: olive oil, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, garlic, mustard, and honey.
Apart from that, of course, it is allowed to add mayo or sour cream to the dressing and make it cream-based. Making chicken pasta salad dressing with mayo or sour cream will make it remarkably richer and creamier.
What Goes With This Dish?
Aside from chicken, pasta, and a hearty veggie mix of cherry tomatoes, red onion, and red bell pepper, here are other options for additional fruits and nuts that might also meet your needs.
Peas contribute a chewy texture and a nutty flavor, while also adding another source of protein and nutrients to this salad.
In place of peas, you can also consider cashews or chopped pecans, as they can also lend a wonderful crispness and earthy flavor to the bowl. You can chop whole pecans yourself or buy pre-chopped pecans to save time.
Usually, red grapes are slightly sweeter and add vibrant color to the salad bowl. However, please rest assured that you can use any variety of grapes, depending on what you have at home or what you can buy in the store.
How Long Does This Salad Last?
Sealed in an airtight container, chicken pasta salad can last in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Although leftovers are safe to eat, they may not retain the best flavor and texture. The longer the salad stays in the refrigerator, the drier it will become.
Therefore, the best way to enjoy this salad is always to complete it within a few hours after cooking. Consider adding some dressing to the salad bowl before reheating to make it moist.
Can You Freeze?
Yes, you can. If stored in the same way as when refrigerated, this salad can freeze well for 2-3 weeks.
Take it out of the freezer the day before serving and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then microwave when you’re ready to enjoy it.
Many ingredients in chicken pasta salad are difficult to freeze. Frozen vegetables after thawing can easily make the entire salad soggy and slimy.
The cream-based dressing can become watery after defrosting, as the mayo or sour cream easily separates. Therefore, if you need to make it in advance, please plan accordingly.
Light, Awesome Chicken Salads to Make for the Week
In just 20 minutes you can make a flavorful salad with shiny, sticky chunks of chicken that is our BBQ chicken salad. The BBQ sauce is our homemade version, made to suit a salad so that everything is balanced in taste.
Similarly rich and tangy but without much cooking, this chicken salad and grapes is the crunchiest, juiciest we’ve ever created. It can also double as a sandwich filling that fits easily into your lunch box.
This chicken pasta salad recipe provides numerous possibilities for spin-offs. You can mix it with added vegetables of your choice to serve as a side for sumptuous meals, or even for meal-prep lunch at work.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.
Chicken Pasta Salad looks like a perfect lunch or dinner option- full of protein, healthy carbs and delicious flavors.